Find help for seasonal affective disorder at ChristianaCare

In Delaware: Visit Behavioral Health Outpatient Services
or call 302-320-2100.

In Maryland: Visit Behavioral Health
Outpatient Services
or call 410-620-0008.

The holidays are over. The decorations are all packed away. A growing emptiness forms in the pit of your stomach as the nights feel longer, and daylight seems to fade away faster than it came.

You go to work in the dark and come home in the dark. You can’t seem to shake a tired, achy feeling from your body.

What is seasonal affective disorder (SAD)?

If you’re experiencing some of these thoughts or feelings, don’t brush them off as simply a case of “cabin fever” or “winter blues.”

You are not imagining things. You are still “you,” but you could be feeling the effects of a common depression called seasonal affective disorder (SAD). SAD is a condition in which a person feels low moods at a certain time each year. It most often occurs during the fall and winter months when days are shorter and there is less light.

While experts aren’t 100% certain what causes SAD, they think it may be caused by a lack of sunlight which can cause a drop in your serotonin level. Serotonin, the “feel-good hormone,” is a brain chemical that lifts your mood.

Where to Get Emergency Help 24/7

If you or someone you know is talking about suicide, self-harm, a mental health crisis, a substance use crisis or any other kind of emotional distress, get help immediately. You can:

* Call the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988.

* Call 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255).

* Text HOME to 741741 to reach the Crisis Text Line.

Consider saving these numbers on your phone.

If you’ve noticed a dip in your mood during this season and it has interfered with your day-to-day activities, pay attention because it could be SAD, and you’ll want to learn to effectively manage your symptoms.

Symptoms can include:

  • Isolating yourself from others.
  • Losing interest in activities you usually enjoy.
  • Having low energy and feeling sluggish.
  • Having difficulty focusing.
  • Feeling short-tempered, irritable, or snappy.
  • Having feelings of guilt.
  • Feeling unable to handle stress.
  • Feeling restless or agitated.
  • Having thoughts of not wanting to live.

Some people may feel so deep or lost in depression that they start thinking about self-harm or suicide. Call 911 if you or someone you know is feeling this way.

Understand your emotions

Psychotherapy is the best type of care for SAD, and medications can help, too. But emotional or behavioral patterns need to be identified so you can move forward with the best treatment plan for you.

Ask yourself questions like:

  • Has your sadness happened every day for multiple weeks?
  • Have you noticed changes in your daily habits?
  • Are you eating well? Are you craving more carbohydrates?
  • Are you sleeping well? Are you staying in bed much longer than usual?
  • Do you have a heavy feeling? Are you feeling listless?
  • Feeling helpless? Hopeless?

Get busy – because you ARE worth it!

You can fight seasonal affective disorder (SAD) by remembering you “ARE” worth the effort! “ARE” stands for three ways to beat SAD:

  • Get Active.
  • Find ways to Relax.
  • Eat well.

Treatment – there is light at the end of the tunnel

You are not in this alone. ChristianaCare’s Behavioral Health team is here to offer you complete compassionate mental, emotional, and behavioral health care. Everyone may need support from time to time, and our expert team is here to give you the help you need.

Treatments may include:

  • Psychotherapy (talk therapy).
  • Medication.
  • Light therapy (talk with your doctor before starting light therapy).

In Delaware, visit Behavioral Health Outpatient Services or call 302-320-2100. In Maryland, visit Behavioral Health Outpatient Services or call 410-620-0008.

Let the light in

Even though seasonal affective disorder is a temporary, seasonal condition, it can feel like it has taken over your whole world. Remember – just as light shines through your fingers when you hold them up to the sun, you can see light shining in your life again by taking the right steps. Overcome SAD symptoms with the help of one of our behavioral health professionals and be good to yourself with at-home treatments – because you are worth it.